Cisco expands software for data center virtualisation

Cisco expands software for data center virtualisation

Cisco Systems Tuesday announced new data center virtualisation software that builds on a Data Center 3.0 program it launched a year ago.

Cisco's announcement, made at its annual CiscoLive conference, builds on a wider industry trend toward virtualization of storage devices, networking gear and servers in data centers.

"Cisco's trying to put the network at the center of things," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group Inc. "The new products themselves are less significant than Cisco's overall vision, [since] the network is the only thing that touches all the data center components."

Tuesday, Cisco announced Wide Area Applications Services (WAAS) Release 4.1 software to accelerate application delivery, including video content via virtual blade technology to branch offices, said George Kurian, Cisco's general manager of the application delivery business unit.

Cisco also announced Application Control Engine (ACE) Release 2.0 for its ACE 4710 application switch to double virtualized application switching speeds to 4Gbit/sec. in a single device, he said.

A third software announcement, for Cisco VFrame 1.2, offers end-to-end setup with Cisco ACE VMware ESX switches, Kurian added.

Jeremy Gill, CIO at Michael Baker Corp. in Moon Township, Pa., said the new WAAS software release will be "highly beneficial" to the engineering firm, especially for video acceleration. Cisco's software allows connections to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Server 2008 for branch services delivery, providing Michael Baker with a "huge advantage in the future ... as we look at further consolidation and future disaster recovery," Gill said.

The company has 50 locations serving 4,000 users over a MPLS network, and it has voice over IP and video distributed throughout, Gill said. Using the new WAAS software will mean the company won't need to worry about how many users can view video in each office, he said.

Cisco didn't announce pricing for its WAAS 4.1 video and virtualization capabilities, although some basic application acceleration capabilities will be free to customers under service contracts. Gill said Cisco WAAS with earlier software releases was "very reliable and affordable" and had helped reduce overall cost of ownership. WAAS 4.1 will be available sometime in the third quarter.

ACE 2.0 will be available in August at no charge to Cisco customers on service contracts. Cisco VFrame 1.2, also expected to be available in the third quarter, starts at US$59,995.

Kerravala said Cisco sales of WAAS and ACE products have done well and "have been a bright spot for Cisco." Riverbed Technology Inc. and F5 Networks Inc. are the data center infrastructure technology leaders, but Cisco is working to "close the gap," he noted.

Also at CiscoLive, Austin-based Uplogix and St. Louis-based World Wide Technology announced a partnership to offer businesses remote management systems. Matt Horner, vice president of professional services at WWT, said the new Uplogix 430 Secure Remote Management appliance will be useful for companies building Cisco virtualized infrastructures throughout central and branch offices.

The new Uplogix appliance, which starts at $2,500, will provide the ability to diagnose and troubleshoot system problems remotely, without the need to dispatch a technician to the scene.

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